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About Major League Soccer

WHAT:
Major League Soccer is the top-flight professional soccer league in the United States and was founded in 1996, after the country hosted the 1994 FIFA World Cup. MLS kicked off its 19th season on March 8, 2014.
 
CLUBS in 2014:
Eastern Conference:                                        Western Conference:
Chicago Fire                                                         Chivas USA
Columbus Crew                                                  Colorado Rapids
D.C. United                                                           FC Dallas
Houston Dynamo                                                LA Galaxy
Sporting Kansas City                                          Real Salt Lake
Montreal Impact                                                   Portland Timbers
New England Revolution                                   San Jose Earthquakes      
New York Red Bulls                                            Seattle Sounders FC
Philadelphia Union                                             Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Toronto FC                                                                                       
                                                                           
SEASON:
·   The 19 MLS teams each played a 34-game regular season schedule, 17 at home and 17 away, starting March 8.
·   Last season, Sporting Kansas City hoisted the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy – winning MLS Cup for the first time since rebranding and the second time in history -- as they beat Real Salt Lake in the MLS Cup Final at Sporting Park. Sporting defender Aurelien Collin earned MLS Cup MVP honors.
·   In 2013, the New York Red Bulls were awarded the Supporters’ Shield, given to the team that finishes with the most regular season points, for the first time in club history.
·   In 2013, MLS announced the addition of New York City FC and Orlando City SC as the league’s 20th and 21st teams, respectively, and both teams will begin play in 2015. On February 5th, 2014, David Beckham announced his intention to exercise his option to buy an MLS expansion franchise in Miami, Florida.
·   In 2014, 15 of 19 clubs’ home venues are considered soccer specific stadiums – built or renovated with MLS ownership involvement.
 
PLAYERS:       
  • In 2014, MLS clubs are home to players born in more than 60 countries outside the United States and Canada, demonstrating the diversity of Major League Soccer. Among the five major team professional sports leagues in the United States, MLS is the most diverse. About two-thirds of the entire MLS player pool is U.S.-born.
  • A description of several notable MLS players follows:
    • Michael Bradley(Toronto FC): Sent shockwaves through the soccer world when he made his return to MLS at 26, transferring from Italian Giants AS Roma to Toronto in January. Bradley has more than 80 caps for the U.S. national team.
    • Jermain Defoe(Toronto FC) One of the biggest signings in league history, Defoe became the 20th player to record 100 goals in the English Premier League and is currently the league’s 14th all-time leading scorer. Defoe has 55 appearances for the English national team.
    • Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC): The current captain of the U.S. national team returned to MLS in 2013 after spending more than six years in the English Premier League.
    • Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy): Considered the best American player ever, Donovan, 31, is the all-time leader in goals and assists for the U.S. national team (including two at the World Cup in South Africa), a five-time MLS Cup winner and the League’s 2009 Volkswagen Most Valuable Player.
    • Omar Gonzalez(LA Galaxy) One of the best defenders in MLS, Gonzalez was named MLS Rookie of the Year in 2009, MLS Defender of the Year in 2011 and MLS Cup MVP in 2012. Has emerged as a starting center back for the U.S. national team after several impressive performances in World Cup Qualifying.
    • Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls): French superstar and former Arsenal and FC Barcelona standout joined the Red Bulls on July 14, 2010.  The World Cup winner is considered one of the best players in the world during the last decade.
    • Robbie Keane(LA Galaxy): Ireland’s all-time leading goal scorer and one of the top ten goal scorers in the history of the Premier League, Keane joined the Galaxy during the 2011 summer transfer window and helped lead the Galaxy to back-to-back MLS Cup titles in 2011 and 2012.
    • Diego Valeri(Portland Timbers): The 2013 MLS Newcomer of the Year sparked the Timbers to their first playoff appearance and the Western Conference Championship in 2013. Valeri led Portland with eight goals and led MLS in assists with 13.
    • Álvaro Saborío (Real Salt Lake): MLS Newcomer of the Year in 2010, Saborío is the all-time leading scorer for Real Salt Lake and one of the pivotal players for the Costa Rica national team as they prepare for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
    • Graham Zusi(Sporting Kansas City): A crafty two-way midfielder, Zusi led Sporting to MLS Cup 2013 and has established his position on the U.S. national team with standout performances during World Cup Qualifying.  
 
 
INVESTORS:   
Major League Soccer is structured as a single, limited liability company (single-entity).  In the single-entity business structure, club operators own a financial stake in the League, not just their individual team.  The MLS investors are:
·         Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG):Investor-operator of the Houston Dynamo and LA Galaxy (other domestic sports business ventures include the Staples Center, The Home Depot Center, the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings).
·         Hunt Sports Group:Investor-operator of FC Dallas (other sports business ventures include the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and NBA’s Chicago Bulls).
·         Kraft Soccer, LLC:Investor-operator of the New England Revolution (other sports business ventures include the NFL’s New England Patriots and Gillette Stadium).
·         Kroenke Sports Enterprises:Investor-operator of the Colorado Rapids (other sports business ventures include the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, NFL’s St. Louis Rams and EPL’s Arsenal).
·         Dell Loy Hansen: Investor-operator of Real Salt Lake. Utah-based entrepreneur and Real Estate developer became sole owner of the club in January, 2013, after purchasing co-ownership stake in a trio of properties – Real Salt Lake, Rio Tinto Stadium and ESPN700 Sports Talk Radio - previously owned by Dave Checketts and SCP Worldwide. 
·         Red Bull Company Limited:  Investor-operator of Red Bull New York. The Austrian company produces the world’s leading energy drink.  Other sports investments include a NASCAR team, Red Bull Salzburg, extreme sports and Formula One auto racing.
·         Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment:Investor-operator of Toronto FC (other sports business ventures include the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, NBA’s Toronto Raptors and Air Canada Center).
·         OnGoal, LLC: Investor-operator group of Sporting Kansas City consists of five Kansas City-area residents led by Cerner Corporation executives Neal Patterson and Cliff Illig.
·         D.C. United Holdings:Investor-operators of D.C. United are Erick Thohir, Jason Levien and William H.C. ("Will") Chang. Chang holds ownership interest in Major League Baseball's San Francisco Giants, while Thohir has a controlling stake in F.C. Internazionale Milano of the Italian Serie A.
·         John Fisher and Lew Wolff:Investor-operator of the San Jose Earthquakes joined MLS as an expansion team in the Western Conference for the 2008 season. Fisher and Wolff are the principle owners of MLB’s Oakland Athletics.
·         Andell Holdings, LLC:Investor-operator of the Chicago Fire. Andell Holdings is a private investment firm with global business and investment interests led by Andrew Hauptman.
·         Joe Roth, Adrian Hanauer, Drew Carey and Paul Allen (Vulcan Sports and Entertainment): Investor-operators of Seattle Sounders FC consist of Hollywood producer Joe Roth, local entrepreneur Adrian Hanauer, television personality Drew Carey and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (owner of VSE that operates the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and NBA’s Portland Trailblazers).
·         Keystone Sports and Entertainment, LLC:Investor-operators of Philadelphia Union include iStar Financial Chairman & CEO Jay Sugarman, veteran sports executive Nick Sakiewicz, Christopher and Robert Buccini and David Pollin, founding partners of The Buccini/Pollin Group. 
·         Golden Boy Productions and Brener International Group: Mexican-American boxing icon Oscar De La Hoya and Gabriel Brener together invested in the Houston Dynamo and now own 50 percent of the club. 
·         Greg Kerfoot, Jeff Mallett, Steve Luczo and Steve Nash:  Investor-operators of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC include Greg Kerfoot (founder of software company Business Objects), Jeff Mallett (former Yahoo! President and COO and owner of English club Derby County FC), Steve Luczo (President and CEO of Seagate Technology) and Steve Nash (current NBA player and Vancouver native).
·         Peregrine, LLC:  Investor-operator group of the Portland Timbers consists of former U.S. Treasury Secretary and CEO of Goldman Sachs Hank Paulson and his son, Merritt Paulson, a professional sports entrepreneur.
·         Free 2 Play Holdings: Joey Saputo is the principal Investor-Operator of the Montreal Impact. The Saputo Family is the founder of Saputo, a major international dairy products company. 
·         Precourt Sports Ventures LLC: Investor-operator group of the Columbus Crew. PSV is a privately held investment and management firm focused on sport-entertainment business led by Managing Partner Anthony Precourt.
·         City Football Group US Holdco LLC: Investor-operator group of New York City Football Club consists of a partnership of Manchester City Football Club and the New York Yankees. Manchester City will be the majority owner of the new club. As an investor, the Yankees will be an active member of the ownership group. Team to begin play in 2015.
·         Orlando Sports Holdings, LLC:  Investor-operators of Orlando City SC include majority owner Flavio Augusto da Silva, and founder and managing partner Phil Rawlins (other sports business ventures include EPL’s Stoke City F.C.). Team to begin play in 2015.
 
STADIUMS:
Major League Soccer has elevated the sport’s stature in North America by building soccer-specific stadiums.  In 1999, the League began moving aggressively to create custom-made venues for its teams that generate the atmosphere and intimacy the game deserves. The seating capacity for these stadiums is between 18,000 and 27,000 and the stadiums share design concepts with some of the finest soccer venues in the world. In 2014, 15 of 19 MLS clubs play their home games in stadiums built with soccer in mind. The existing MLS soccer stadiums are:
 
·         Columbus Crew Stadium (Columbus, Ohio):  Opened in 1999 as the home of the Columbus Crew. Built by the Hunt Family, this stadium has hosted two All-Star Games, MLS Cup and many important U.S. National Team games.
·         StubHub Center (Carson, Calif.):Opened in 2003 and is the luxurious home of both the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA. Hosted MLS All-Star Game and several MLS Cups.
·         Toyota Stadium (Frisco, Texas): Opened in 2005 as the home of FC Dallas. Hosted MLS Cup 2005 and MLS Cup 2006. A 145-acre multipurpose sports complex with 17 tournament-grade fields.
·         Toyota Park (Bridgeview, Ill.):  Located just 15 minutes south of downtown Chicago, the handsome venue debuted in 2006 and hosted the Sierra Mist All-Star Game with Chelsea FC competing against the MLS All-Stars.
·         BMO Field (Toronto, Canada): Toronto FC began play in MLS in 2007 and was host of the 2008 MLS All-Star Game and MLS Cup 2010.
·         Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (Commerce City, Colo.): The Colorado Rapids’ stadium opened in 2007 and is the centerpiece of a 24-field soccer complex believed to be one of the world’s largest.
·         Rio Tinto Stadium (Sandy, Utah):  Real Salt Lake’s stadium opened in 2008 and was the host of the 2009 MLS All-Star Game.
·         Red Bull Arena (Harrison, N.J.): The New York Red Bulls state-of-the-art stadium, inaugurated in 2010, is located 10 miles from midtown Manhattan.  It features a dynamic form roof—a curving structure that wraps the entire 25,189-seat stadium in an elegant metal shell.
·         PPL Park (Chester, Penn.):  This world-class waterfront stadium located just over 15 miles from Center City, Philadelphia.  Built at the foot of the Commodore Barry Bridge, this 18,500-seat stadium is the home to Philadelphia Union and was inaugurated in 2010. PPL Park hosted the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game on July 25, 2012.
·         Providence Park (Portland, Ore.):Already steeped in sports and entertainment history, Providence Park underwent a $31 million renovation to create an exciting and authentic soccer facility. Will host 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game.
·         BC Place (Vancouver, Canada): Vancouver began their inaugural season in MLS at Empire Field before moving into the new BC Place Stadium in downtown Vancouver on October 2, 2011 when the club hosted its rival, Portland Timbers.  BC Place has made improvements to the stadium with soccer fans in mind.  The revitalized stadium seats 21,000 fans during regular season MLS matches. 
·         Sporting Park (Kansas City, Kansas):The $180 million plus, state-of-the-art, soccer-specific stadium seats 18,467 soccer supporters and features a dramatic canopy roof that covers every seating section. The stadium features 36 suites and five clubs, including the innovative Members Club. Hosted the 2013 AT&T MLS All-Star Game and MLS Cup 2013
·         BBVA Compass Stadium (Houston, Texas):Houston Dynamo’s new downtown Houston stadium, which seats 22,000, opened on May 12, 2012, and since then the Dynamo are undefeated at home in MLS action.
·         Stade Saputo (Montreal, Canada): Montreal Impact began their inaugural season in MLS at Olympic Stadium moving into the renovated Stade Saputo on the Olympic grounds in June of 2012.
 
TELEVISION:  
·   MLS has national television agreements in the United States with ESPN / ESPN Deportes, NBC Sports, NBC Sports Network, Univision networks, as well as in Canada with TSN and RDS.
·   Every MLS match is televised in 2014, either nationally or regionally, and most are available live on www.MLSsoccer.com and www.FutbolMLS.com.
 
SPONSORS:    
The portfolio of blue chip partners working with MLS to grow their business continues to expand with the growth of the League.  A list of current sponsors, suppliers, and partners – including the year in which the partnership was formed – follows:
 
 
adidas(athletic apparel and equipment): 1996
Allstate (insurance): 2011
Anheuser-Busch(beer): 1996
Aquafina(water): 1996
AT&T (communications services): 2009
Bimbo (bread): 2011
Brown-Forman(spirits): 2011
Capri Sun(juice drink): 2014
Castrol (motor oil): 2010
Chipotle (fast-casual Mexican rest.): 2014
Continental Tire(tire):  2010
EA Sports(video game publisher): 2012
Etihad (airline): 2014
Gatorade(isotonic sports drink): 2003
The Home Depot (home improvement retailer): 2008
JELD-WEN(windows / doors): 2011
Makita USA(tools): 2004
Microsoft Windows 8 (operating system): 2013
Panasonic(consumer electronics): 2001
Pepsi(soft drink): 1996
Quaker (breakfast products): 2012
Red Bull(energy drink): 2006
USA Today Sports Images (photography): 2013
Visa (payment services): 2007
Volkswagen(automobile): 2008
Wells Fargo (retail banking, commercial lending): 2013
Xbox (video game console): 2008